"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Founders vs Internet Censorship

Unless you're new to this internet thing, you are probably aware by now that Congress has been debating for some time two bills to combat internet piracy under the names SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_IP_Act). The internet has been up in arms about these proposed bills almost since their inception, stating (and rightly so) that they amount to censorship, invasion of privacy, and would quite possibly throw the internet as we know and love it into a destructive spiral. If by some chance you are still unfamiliar with these acts and their implications, we strongly encourage you to take a moment to check out the links above and get up to speed.

At Lost and Founders we take great pride and pleasure in being able to deliver historically accurate tales of heroism by the founders of these United States. Though its been said quite a few times by much more influential people this point, we would like throw whatever weight we have behind the ongoing movement and state publicly that although we recognize the important of stopping true internet piracy, we disagree with Congress' proposed solution and believe it would in fact do more harm than good. As historians, we are also afforded unusual insight into how the founders would have handled the myriad of tricky political situations in today's civil society, and surprisingly enough there this is not the first time in history that the threat of censorship has come up. Take a look at some powerful words from none other than former President Abraham Lincoln and then consider letting your representatives in Congress know that if Lincoln would not have been ok with SOPA/PIPA then you aren't either.

"A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have." - Abraham Lincoln, 1845

"Allow the president to invade a neighboring business, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an act of piracy, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure." - Abraham Lincoln, 1863

"Avoid censorship if you would have peace." - Abraham Lincoln, 1863

"Discourage government intervention in the business of the common man. Persuade your representatives to vote against bad policy whenever you can. As a lawmaker the congressman has superior opportunity of making himself known through foolish support of regulation. There will still be business enough." Abraham Lincoln, 1862

"Don't interfere with anything on the internet. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties." Abraham Lincoln, 1856

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Thomas Jefferson Version of Winnie the Pooh : The Jeffer-Poo

Recently there has been a great deal of press about The Jefferson Bible. Tarcher, part of Penguin books, is publishing a new edition  this month. While many news stations feel it pertinent to cover the story of The Jefferson Bible, we here at Lost and Founders continuously strive to tell you the untold stories. Stories about Jefferson's Bible are a dime a dozen. Search on google and you'll find hundreds...thousands even. We did some deeper digging and discovered something far more dark.

The Bible was not the only book that Jefferson decided to 'cut apart'. After extensive research where we cross referenced books that were in our personal libraries against books that were impossibly hypotheitically capable of being in Jefferson's library we were able to discover some other books that Jefferson cut up. After reading Jefferson's version of 'The Hungry Hungry Caterpiller' we, quite literally, thought that it was his way of making the book more digestable; easier to consume. As 'The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar' was the only book that featured circular cuts we were quickly able to determine that it was an anomoly.

As 'The Guardian' notes: "The third US president's unwillingness to swallow miracles such as the virgin birth led him to cut out parts of the Gospels he did not agree with and compile his own version." It was this that got us started on the right path. It wasn't the Bible that Jefferson was looking at cutting apart, it was miracles. In Jefferson's day the genre of 'Miracle' books are what we would term today as High Fantasy or Science Fiction. Jefferson was making a very literaturagical statement with his cuttings. He was showing his distaste and condomenation of all things fantasmagorical.

It was through this line of thinking that we were lead to The Jeffer-Poo. Or Jefferson's version of Winnie the Pooh. Jefferson initially read Winnie the Pooh and was outraged. Stuffed animals becoming living and breathing characters. It was outrageous, it needed to be stopped. It was at this point that Jefferson rode on the back of his Cockatrice to the local supermarket where he purchased sugar-free Red Bull, a bottle of Rum and Gummy Bears. He soaked the gummy bears in the rum and proceeded to guzzle the sugar-free Red Bull. After slamming the can down and consuming 14 of the intoxicating gummy bears Jefferson slipped into a Maddened craze. He pulled out his copy of Winnie the Pooh and furiously began cutting and stripping out fantastical sections.

It was on this page that Jefferson had his greatest outburst (his notes are below):

'I mean come on. A teddy bear talking to a teddy donkey. What is this Disneyland? Nobody believes this crap anyways.' Unfortunately for Jefferson, in his Red Bull and rum induced excitement he had trimmed the picture to closely. He actually cut off Eeyore's original tail. The drama didn't end there. Washington was in town visiting the next morning and saw Jefferson's Recut photo. Washinton immediatly broke into hysterics. He looked at Jefferson, laughed and asked 'Seriously Tom, haven't you seen a donkey before, you know they have tails right?' Confused, Jefferson looked at the picture and tried to explain to Washington that the night before he had been taken a cockatrice to the supermarket and proceeded to trip out on a Red Bull/rummy bear induced haze. Jefferson thought that all was well until his birthday on April 13th.

Everyone was in attendance, Washington, Madison, Monroe, Adams even made the horseride down for the occasion. Little did he know Washington had devised a little game that none of them were willing to miss. It was then that Washington created what have come to know as 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey'. He proceeded to explain 'that T. Jizz had riding a cockamimi, or something or other, while drinking the urine of a red bull and eating bears that had been turned to jelly, and it was during this time that ol' Tommy Boy came up with this idea that donkey's don't have tails.' As a way to test TJ's knowledge of where a donkey's tail goes, they blindfolded him, handed him a donkey's tail and told him to pin it to his ass. Considering that they had pre-gamed with Washington's Rye Whiskey this game became quite entertaining as they chased one another around Monticello trying to 'pin tails' on one another. The boys took true pleasure in sending Jefferson the following photos on his birthday as a yearly reminder of his blunder.

In a letter from Adams to Jefferson, 1825
I've lost my tail, can you help me find it. What an idiot! Gah, idiot! Of course donkey's have tails.
Happy Birthday bro!
Johnny A.

In a letter from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson 1820:

Did you know that donkeys are actually born with bowties on their tails? Romans initially hypothesized that they learned how to tie bowties at a very young age, but we all know that would be impossible. Seriously though, do you like that picture? I did some extra copies so you can cut them out for next time we play 'pin the ass.'
Georgie Porgie
PS Don't take this as an opportunity to say shit about that cherry tree. I will end you if I hear a peep about a 'tree falling in the forest, will a politician write policy' joke. Jk. Jk. But seriously.

In a letter from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson - 1816:

I figured you would need something to cheer yourself up for the birthday. It's even in color, wook at that wittle face, he's soooo cute. I CAN HAZ TAIL BACK?! or YOU LOOKING AT MY BUM?
Happy Birthday man!

Mad I 'aint yo' son.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Founder's Choice Awards

Last night marked the 2012 edition of the People's Choice Awards, yet another televised pageant in what seems to be an endless number of award shows that air throughout the year in the states for everything from movies to video games to probably many other things that don't make it on to the major networks - truly we are a people who take great pride in being proud of our own accomplishments.

As noted historians, people often send us letters asking how we got to this point and why these shows are so popular. We will answer these questions in today's history lesson where we will attempt to explain the origin of the award show in America, starting with an event in 1783 known as the Founder's Choice Awards.

In April of 1783, hostilities between the newly independent United States of America and Great Britain were coming to a close and the story of the The Revolutionary War was being wrapped up for the history books. It was a time of celebration in the former colonies; historians imagine there would have been quite a lot of back-slapping in particular as was made popular as a gesture of goodwill during war time. In the midst of countless parties being thrown all over the east coast, the young Congress decided an official ceremony was in order to honor the men and women who made the Revolutionary War a success. They began compiling a list of names and quickly realized that it would take several days to get through everyone and decided it made more sense to cut the number down and only honor the absolute best from a series of categories. The consensus was that an event like this would last about three hours including speeches from the organizers, honorees, and a musical performance by John Hancock and the Liberty Belles. 

The founder then put their new democratic process through its trials through continuous voting on categories as well as honorees. In the first year of the award show, only Congress voted, but in future years the voting became more interactive and the states were polled by way of a pamphlet published through Benjamin Franklin's print shop (Editor's note: this was also the inspiration for both the famous Gallup public opinion polls and the American census).

After the votes were tallied and preparations made, the 1783 Founder's Choice Awards took place on May 2nd in the Philadelphia town hall building. The now infamous "red carpet" of modern award shows was actually the left over fabric from one of Betsy Ross' unused versions of the national flag. According to historic accounts it was extremely cold and rainy that night and so the material was placed on the ground at the entrance to the hall to keep honorees from stepping in the mud. I guess you could say the tradition "stuck."


In the end, though there were no small amount of lighting blunders (the entire place was lit by candlelight), costume mishaps, and distasteful jokes on the part of a drunk Benjamin Franklin in particular, the show was considered a huge success. Honorees were awarded small busts of George Washington giving a thumbs up sign and there was supposedly an enormous amount of clapping which interestingly enough was at the time NOT a sign of approval but rather the audience's attempt to cover up an honoree's speech that had gone on too long. The "Foundie's were given out annually for the next several decades, evolving over time into what we now call the Tony Awards (the obvious similarity between Founder's Choice and People's Choice is actually pure coincidence).

So there you have it once again - the origin of the modern day award show was actually based on a Revolutionary War era experiment in democracy and celebration. For those interested we have included what we believe is a partial list of the categories and awards that were handed out that first year to give you an idea of just how much (or moreso how little) the modern day award shows have progressed:

Most Creative Art Direction
Benjamin Franklin, "Join or Die" 
Join, or Die by Benjamin Franklin was recycled to encourage the former colonies to unite against British rule

Most Quotable Speech
Rev. John Mayhew, "No taxation without representation" from a Boston sermon
Best Musical Score
Minutemen dressed as British Regulars performing march, Battle of Saratoga

Best Choreography in a Training Program
Baron Fredreich Wilhelm Von Steuben, Valley Forge
Baron Steuben by Peale, 1780.jpg

Best Costume Design
Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau
Rochambeau Versailles.jpg

Best Comedic Performance in a Military Action
Thomas Hardwick, Battle of Concord

Best Kiss
John Francis and Elizabeth Huntinton, After the Battle of Lexington

Best Set Design
John Trumbull, Yorktown

Best General, Best Pose for a Painting
Gen. George Washington, crossing the Delaware

Friday, January 6, 2012

Out and In for 1811: The Lost and Founders Edition

We take the coming and going of the New Year very seriously in America (and at Lost and Founders, obvi). Historically, the dawn of a New Year is a time for reflection on the past year’s events and a time to resolve to make better for the future.   Each year the Washington Post, a truly American publication, reveres the New Year by listing the official “Out” and “In” List for the year. 

Many of you have probably assumed that The List is a trend of the 21st century; but, like most great American traditions, The List began in our country’s founding days. In fact, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the first “Out” and “In” list ever published in America! So, to celebrate 2012, we’re giving you an inside look at what was going “Out” in 1811 and coming “In” in 1812:

Out: Wigs
In: Natural Curls

Out: Sexism
In: Slavery

Out: Non-Intercourse with Great Britain 
In: The War of 1812

Out: Corporal Punishment
In: Signing your kids up for the draft

Out: Generic Ales
In: Microbrews

Out: State Flags
In: State flora and fauna

Out: Lewis cock-blocking Clark across America
In: Louisiana, admitted as the 18th state on April 30, 1812

Out: Fairly apportioned political districts
In: Gerrymandering

Out: Words with Founding Fathers
In: Hanging with Founding Fathers

Out: Talking about the Napoleonic Wars
In: Talking about Napoleon’s height

Out: Horse-drawn carriages
In: Horse-drawn lawn mowers

Out: The New England Colonies
In: The Jersey Shore

Out: Puritanism
In: Tebowism

While the "Outs" and "Ins" have changed significantly since the Founders first rang in the New Year, reflecting on each New Year is a long-standing American tradition that we at Lost and Founders will always honor. Cheers to 2012 and to the Freakin Weekend.